When I write about the tinderbox, I don’t usually have much feedback; I learnt that this is often because users can’t really be expected to understand the technical details that goes around it, but I suspect it also involves the fact that quite a few people don’t understand how my tinderbox work is relevant to the average user. So just to refresh that idea I’ll try to write it explicitly.
Indeed, there are a number of reasons why the tinderbox is relevant; beside the general QA improvements, for instance, there are a few direct improvements for users:
- removal of old packages: by removing the old crappy packages that don’t build, don’t install, don’t work and stuff like that, it reduces the amount of packages in the tree; we all know that the size of the tree does matter on users, there has been an uncountable number of proposals of splitting it up in overlays and stuff; I don’t like those proposals and I really think we should start considering slimming down the tree first which is why I’m masking packages all over the tree;
- bugs are already filed: this both is helpful for users to find their problems, and hopefully to bug wranglers that won’t have to assign all the bugs; indeed it starts to take quite a while for bugs to be wrangled properly, and hopefully by having the bugs filed before users decide to file them, the assignment will be done already (since I usually do assign them properly);
- new packages won’t make your system bail out: there are a number of packages that break ABI and API all the time; testing all the reverse dependencies might take time for most developers, the tinderbox usually can do that quite fast; it would work better if the breaking packages were masked and submitted for review, but even this way it works nicely;
- minor issues that wouldn’t be noticed on users get fixed: when packages have minor issues like missing die statements, conditional text relocations and other stuff like that, they don’t tend to get reported because most users rightly don’t care once the package merged fine; by checking the logs I can find this stuff much more easily, and fix or report it.
Now, I just hope my video card is not bringing down my tinderbox efforts.